72 Minutes Each Month
For those that read last week’s blog on Significant 72, thank you very much and as promised here is the continuation of our Significant 72 story. If you missed last weeks’ ‘first chapter’ scroll down and check out part one in the previous blog.
As you recall there are three main aspects to Significant 72 (72 hours, 72 minutes and 72 seconds). Last week, it was all about the first three days of school; 72 hours. Let’s talk about how we used Significant 72 for 72 minutes a month to really impact the climate, culture and student voice and experience at the school.
When our school first formed we established in our goal setting and plans three key indicators from the School Effectiveness Framework: A support for school improvement and student success. We were going to invent in relationships first.
Indicator 2.5: Staff, students, parents and school community promote and sustain student well-being and positive student behaviour in a safe, accepting, inclusive and healthy learning environment.
Indicator 3.3: Students are partners in dialogue and discussions to inform programs and activities in the classroom and school that represent the diversity, needs and interests of the student population.
Indicator 6.2: Students, parents and community members are engaged and welcomed, as respected and valued partners in student learning.
Using these indicators to inform our Safe School’s Plan and our School Effectiveness Plan we created yearly goals focusing on literacy, numeracy, and health and well being (climate & culture). Goals were created in each of the three areas and the three indicators above (2.5, 3.3, 6.2) were key in each area.
Our school goal focusing on climate and culture was based on our belief that all children are important. When we said all, we meant all. 100% of our students indicate they have a strong sense of well being and sense of belonging. How could we in good conscience say it is okay to have 80% of our students feel this connection to the school. Nope, we have the ambitious goal of reaching every one of our students.
The cumulating data we used for our well being goals can be found within staff, community and student surveys that are used to generate important school context information. Two common surveys we have used are Tell Them From Me (TTFM) and Have Your Say. Usually these are done during a scheduled time in the year and data is retrieved quickly to be used by the staff. These are all very valuable. However, we wanted faster, focused, easier to administer data and we tied this need to hear from our students in with Significant 72.
Our SMART goal was stated as this:By June 2020, 100% of students will indicate they have a strong sense of belonging and well being assessed by the TTFM data. The use of three key strategies (Significant 72, Class Community Circles, Greetings) will significantly impact these results. Monthly monitoring of key questions will allow for the implementation of improvement strategies between survey dates.
There were three key actions mentioned in the goal.
- Significant 72 – first 72 hours, 72 minutes each month as community circles, 72 seconds each day
- Community Circles done in every homeroom
- Outside/Hallway Welcome (P1, P3, P5) and Doorway greetings (P2, P4, P6)
These three strategies really are Significant 72 written in a different way. Strategy number two is 72 minutes and month and strategy three is 72 seconds a day.
I’ll speak about the third strategy (Outside/Hallway Welcome) next week when
discussing Significant 72 as a daily occurrence.
Significant 72 each month is about relationship building. 72 minutes each month dedicated to strengthening the connections we have to each other and to the work we are doing with our students. This work is important and not just left to the first 72 hours of the year. We revisit on a consistent monthly basis the importance of relationships first. But we also did something in addition to this to strengthen our data, provide opportunity for student voice and to really walk the talk in regards to our school effectiveness goals.
I’ll tell you what Significant 72 each month is not. It is not a movie put on because the students ‘earned it’ or accumulated ‘class points’. It is not a reward that is given, it is a regularly scheduled effectiveness strategy carried out in each and every classroom. Instructional time is too valuable not to be used fully. Great educators realize they do not have enough time to do the things they wish to do. It is 72 minutes a month to get reconnected, and to remind each other why we are there and why each person is important. It is also 72 minutes for the students to share with us how we, as the adults, are doing.
Each month our teachers were asked to hold a community circle with their students. Staff could hold more if they wish or when something happened in class and they wanted to do some restorative work or collaborative problem solving. But as a leadership team we wanted a defined community circle once a month, Significant 72. The circle would be to relationship build, not just done in the first 3 days and forgotten, but as 72 minutes a month to get us some valuable information from our students. Using this student voice provided us the opportunity to make changes as we needed and not have to wait until we received our data in the larger regularly scheduled survey. I would also suggest including students in this manner assisted us with student perception when they did come around to doing the surveys. Our students understood their voice and opinion mattered.
Staff were first instructed on how to operate a community circle, how to set the expectations for student input and listening skills so that a community circle could run effectively. Those that had received training took staff through the proper steps as well as some volunteered to go into a classroom and model for the teacher how to run an effective class circle.
The first week of every month during our staff development learning meetings we would share our question of the month for staff. Staff were asked to conduct a community circle meeting some time during the rest of the week and record the responses from the students. As well, in our meetings we would review the responses from the previous month to potentially make changes or refinements if needed. The data was topical, changes could occur quickly and we did not have to wait for the cyclical nature of results from our other surveys. What a novel idea! The staff meetings have student voice in them.
Some of the questions we have asked our students: (and some responses)
How do your families hear about what you are doing/learning in school?
What do you really want to learn this year?
What can adults at Boyne do to make you happy? Do well in school?
What opportunities would you like to see happen in/for the school this year?
How do we welcome new students into our classroom? What will we teach them, and show them so they feel included, welcome and safe?
From Grade 8
What will you do to welcome a new student? How will you make them feel welcome and safe?
- Say hello
- Ask about their old school or where they came from
- Introduce myself and tell them something about me
- Ask them things they like and are interested about
- Ask them to hang at recess
- Ask to be their buddy for the week to get them used to the school
- Be their tour guide and show them around the school and introduce to teachers
- Introduce them to my friends in other classes
- Ask them to sit with me
- Get them to join a team or club
- Ask them to work on a project or in a group
- Talk about how great Boyne is
- Tell them the teachers they can go to if they need help or to talk to someone
- Make sure I check in with them everyday to see how they are doing
- Get to know them
- Tell the what I do if I need a break or where I go to clear my head
- Ask them if they want to hang with us at recess and after school
- Get them involved in the school to feel apart of Boyne
- Show them what it means to work hard, be nice and make a difference
Are there places/spaces in our school or on property where you do not feel safe?
From Grade 7=
Where do you feel safe, comfortable? A place where you feel you can be most like yourself?
– at break playing soccer with friends
– Serenity – games, quiet space, choice of activities
– band practice
Where do you feel unsafe or uncomfortable with what you see, what you hear or how you feel?
– in the hallways when the bell rings – groups of students socializing at lockers means you have to push through crowds
– at break playing basketball – “trash talk”
– at lockers after school
– girls washroom/change room – girls eating lunch in stalls and leaving food behind
– bathrooms – younger students peeking through the cracks and under stalls
– on the stairs coming inside from break – people pushing
How can we make a difference?
– continue to line up outside of class
– more teachers in halls between classes
– schedule time at the basketball nets for grades
– have more activities available at break – 4 square painted on blacktop
What do you see or notice the adults doing at Boyne PS to make the school a welcoming, safe place where you want to be?
The adults in the school help us to feel safe by:
-working to help solve problems we bring up (e.g., phones in the bathroom, they still see it happening but agree we are trying to help)
-take their opinions into account (e.g., phone apartment)
-celebrate and education about religious events (e.g., Eid)
-support their needs in having a prayer room/prayer space (e.g., cricket tournament)
-push them out of their comfort zones (e.g., play day)
-build trust and reliable relationships
-help solve social problems fairly
-listen to concerns
-encourage them to solve problems with our support
-ask about their weekend/day
Teachers were free to adjust the question slightly in order to match the age and stage of the children in their classroom.
Teachers would record the responses and hand them in before the end of the week. I would copy and paste all the responses into a master copy, take photographs of classroom generated charts etc. These responses were then reviewed by the admin. team, our safe schools team and the entire staff in the following monthly meeting. Besides providing valuable data the comments gave staff a huge complement for their hard work, it put smiles on their faces and showed that all the hard work was making a difference.
I don’t want you to think that this is the only use of community circles in the school, they are used by many staff and in many situations, but this monthly Significant 72 classroom circle became a required element
Because in Significant 72, you can’t just do the first three days and think the work is done. These 72 minutes a month allow us to remind each other about our commitments. It is an opportunity for some fun activities and getting to know you ideas from the beginning of the year, as well as an opportunity to hear from our students.
Dig deeper into Significant 72, it will make a profound impact in your school.